Pregnant Pause: Digesting Junk Food and Unwanted Opinions

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junk foodI'm stating the obvious, I know, but every single pregnancy decision you make is rife with potential controversy. Absolute strangers feel perfectly fine in their own heads about offering their opinions, advice, or finger-shaking at the slightest provocation.

I'll never forget the night I went to a dinner party and it came up that we were going to find out the sex of the baby. "Oh, I wouldn't do that," one old biddy advised me, "You really should be surprised." I'm sorry lady, but do I even know your name? More to the point, do you know mine?!

Luckily, my backbone was firmly in place and I calmly and decisively delivered my prepared statement: "We think it's a surprise at any point in pregnancy, and I'd rather not be hopped up on drugs when we do find out." Then I braced myself for the unasked-for lecture on unmedicated births, but happily, I was spared that.

This is the deal: your pregnancy, your decisions. Unless you are causing physical harm to yourself or your baby, no one has the right to make you feel guilty or like a bad mother. NO ONE.

And that goes for your food choices as well. A fellow pregnant friend had to deal with a co-worker, who was all Judgey McOpinionPants that my friend hadn't given up sugar for her pregnancy.


Personally, this pregnancy turned me into a Salt Vampire. Usually fairly light-handed in my application of salt in the past, I have really been piling it on recently. Which is odd because with my pregnancy-endowed super smeller, it would seem to follow that I've got a super taster as well, right? So why the need to increase my blood pressure?

Well, some articles, books, or blog posts might tell me that I'm craving salt because the baby wants minerals he's otherwise lacking. These same articles also tell me that I don't want chocolate because the baby is telling me to eat healthy food. So, then I gotta ask: what is said baby is trying to tell me when I crave McDonald's cheeseburgers, Safeway doughnuts, and root beer?

Look, I know there are pregnant chicks out there who make the irrevocable decision to eat healthy, healthy, healthy their entire pregnancy and that's admirable, it really is. However, for me, it wasn't at all reasonable in the first trimester. And by "reasonable" I mean, "either I eat this bag of Cheetos or the kid starves because everything else is making me nauseous."

Ironically, I was a fairly healthy eater before I got pregnant. I ate mostly grains, legumes, and vegetables with fish and some meats mixed in. I didn't overdo it in the dessert department, and I tried to restrain my rampant cheese obsession. Also, we mostly cooked at home with only occasional dinings-out.

That all went out the window in weeks 6-13 where I scarfed every possible item of junk food known to man and couldn't bear to set foot in the kitchen.

At my first doctor's appointment, I had to fill out a sheet describing what I had eaten in the previous week. This was my menu: hot dogs, grilled cheese, cookies, Totino's pizza, apples, crackers, water. My UCSF midwife smiled at the list. "This reads like one of my pregnant teenagers," she commented. I hurriedly told her that normally I was a really healthy eater and that I knew I had to get good stuff in my body for the baby. She calmed me down and said it was perfectly normal and no, I wasn't already a bad mother.

After I got past my nauseous stage, my body went back to allowing in all the stuff from my old diet without kicking up a mighty, bathroom-dashing fuss.

What I'm trying to say is, pregnancy is stressful enough as it is, so if you're craving "bad food," try not beat yourself up about it. Can you go overboard and eat ten donuts a day for every day of your pregnancy? Sure, all things in moderation and so on, but the upshot is, it's only nine months, you'll get your body back on track.